Privatisation is hurting the social care workforce

Source: Peter Beresford, The Guardian, June 21, 2016

Once the domiciliary care workforce was made up of local authority home helps who had valued, secure jobs. Now it is typified by low paid, part-time care assistants, with minimal job security and career prospects. The workforce is increasingly attracted to other sectors, such as supermarkets, for better terms and conditions. A recent review (pdf) painted a dismal picture of working conditions in the care sector. Some three in every four of England’s 15,000 care homes are now run for profit and the proportion is rising. Des Kelly, who until recently was the director of the National Care Forum has said: “On a good day, we reckon we would be able to count 20% [non-profit] and 6% or so left in the public sector … I don’t think that represents a healthy mixed economy. What we have done very effectively over a period of about 30 years is to denationalise the care sector.” … Nor does privatisation seem to have benefited service users. One young, unqualified worker says: “I visit one elderly man, who lives with his son. He served in the second world war. His son has severe mental health problems, and is unable to care for himself. I visit their house in the morning to help with daily tasks. They live in squalid, nasty conditions. I have very little nutritious, acceptable food to cook for them – [just] microwave and tinned meals. I’m not specialised or trained in caring, and I’m paid £7 an hour for the work I do. This is the best on offer for this veteran and his son.” …

Related:

Outrage at privatising child protection should spark an overhaul of the whole system
Source: Anna Gupta, Brigid Featherstone, Kate Morris, Sue White, The Conversation, July 28, 2014

The Department for Education’s proposal that for-profit companies could provide child protection services and other statutory functions for families caused a major public uproar this spring – and the furore is still rumbling. A front-page article in the Guardian, tens of thousands of signatories to various petitions, a letter signed by 37 academic experts, plus many individual replies to the consultation all led to an apparent u-turn, with the government announcing it was abandoning the idea. It has since transpired that the u-turn is not quite as it appears: the revised regulations will not prevent an otherwise profit-making company from setting up a separate not-for-profit subsidiary to take on these sorts of contracts. This back-door route will allow companies to profit from social care contracts by channelling funds back to parent firms. Many profit-making companies are already involved in running children’s homes, and under the new proposals, those same companies could be involved in making crucial decisions on whether or not children are taken into care….

Government U-turn over privatising child protection services
Source: Patrick Butler, The Guardian, June 20, 2014

Outcry by social work experts leads ministers to say no to private companies but to consider charities and social enterprises… Proposals to allow local authorities in England to privatise child protection services have been abandoned. The Department for Education said on Friday that profit-making organisations would be barred from carrying out core child safeguarding duties, although councils would still be able to bring in charities and not-for-profit firms if they wished. The decision follows criticism from experts – including social work academics, professionals and charities – that opening up child protection to the market would distort decision-making and dilute local accountability over sensitive matters such as taking a child into care….

Privatise child protection services, Department for Education proposes /Experts sound alarm over proposal from Michael Gove’s department to outsource children’s services to private firms
Source: Patrick Butler, The Guardian, May 16, 2014

The power to take children away from their families could be privatised along with other child protection services under controversial plans the government has quietly announced. The proposal from Michael Gove’s Department for Education (DfE) to permit the outsourcing of children’s social services in England to companies such as G4S and Serco has alarmed experts. They say profit-making companies should not be in charge of such sensitive family matters, and warn that the introduction of the profit motive into child protection may distort the decision-making process. A DfE consultation paper published last month argues that enabling local authorities to outsource children’s social services will encourage innovation and improve outcomes for at-risk youngsters….